Chinese Play Food: Realistic Dim Sum Toys That Celebrate Culture

Realistic Chinese play food dim sum toys made of high-quality felt, no plastic

Because I want my daughter and son to appreciate their heritage, I was so excited to give them these beautiful Chinese play food toys. Since we live in a little beach town in California that’s lacking in Asian culture, these dim sum toys give my children a taste of Chinese culture!

My kids have loved our Chinese play food toys since getting them for Christmas 4 years ago. Now at ages 8 and 5 years old, both kids still play with their felt dim sum toys.

DIY Cardboard Chinese Lunar New Year Market for Kids
Having fun with dim sum toys at our cardboard Chinese market and Chinese New Year crafts!

Even if your family is not Chinese, dim sum toys are a fun way to bring diversity and inclusion to your home! These toys are wonderful gifts for birthdays, holidays, and special occasions.

I’ll share how my kids have been using the Chinese food toys plus where to buy them. But first: here’s a peek inside the bamboo steamers…

Realistic Non-Plastic Chinese Play Food for Kids - Dim sum, stick rice dumplings, bamboo steamers

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More ways to celebrate Chinese culture with kids

Chinese dim sum toys - egg rolls, dumplings, shumai, egg tarts, sticky rice, fortune cookie in bamboo steamers
Chinese dim sum toys from Le Petit Dumpling: left- egg roll, fortune cookie, sticky rice dumpling; right: shumai, egg tart, potsticker, pork bao

What is Chinese dim sum / 点心 / 點心?

In Chinese culture, dim sum 点心 / 點心 (diǎnxīn) is a breakfast or lunch with tea and a variety of dishes. The small, appetizer-like plates are shared with family and friends, similar to banchan (반찬) in Korean culture and tapas in Spanish culture. These dishes are typically served by carts that are pushed around by waiters and waitresses.

Most modern dim sum dishes originated from southern China (Guangzhou and Hong Kong), and they are now enjoyed all over the world.

My favorite childhood memories involve Toronto trips to feast on dim sum with my Chinese relatives. At dim sum restaurants, we learned to be patient with long lines and noisy crowds. But every delicious, bite-sized Chinese dish was worth the wait!

Examples of popular Chinese dim sum foods

Realistic Non-Plastic Chinese Play Food for Kids - Dim Sum - fun gift for holidays and birthdays!
Close-up of the 虾饺 (xiā jiǎo / crystal shrimp dumpling) in the bamboo steamer

虾饺 (xiā jiǎo / crystal shrimp dumpling)

虾饺 is my favorite dim sum dish! Can you see the hint of pink prawn peeking through the pearly white wrapper in the picture above?

Realistic Non-Plastic Chinese Play Food for Kids - Dim Sum - fun gift for holidays and birthdays!
Chinese play food: 小笼包 (xiǎo lóng bāo / soup dumpling)

小笼包 (xiǎo lóng bāo / soup dumpling)

The 小笼包 (xiǎo lóng bāo / soup dumpling) makes me nostalgic for my late father.  He grew up in Shanghai, home of the delicious 小笼包 dumplings.

Realistic Non-Plastic Chinese Play Food for Kids - Dim Sum - fun gift for holidays and birthdays!
烧卖 (Shāomai / Shumai) dumpling toys

烧卖 (Shāomai / Shumai)

烧卖 (Shāomai / Shumai) is my husband’s favorite dim sum dish. Traditionally, 烧卖 dumplings are filled with steamed pork and prawns.  This Chinese play food set is garnished with orange roe for a pop of color!

Realistic Non-Plastic Chinese Play Food for Kids - Zong zi - Dragon Boat Festival
Chinese play food: 粽子 (zòngzi / sticky rice)

粽子 (zòngzi / sticky rice)

This delicious sticky rice with lotus leaf has various Chinese names such as 糯米雞 (nuòmǐ jī) and 粽子 (zòngzi).

Sticky rice dumplings are widely enjoyed during 端午节 (Duānwǔ jié / Dragon Boat Festival/Dumpling Festival).

When you can’t have authentic Chinese food

While the best way to learn about Chinese food is through cooking and eating, what if you’re like us, hours away from the nearest authentic Chinese restaurant?

Or a terrible cook like me?

My son also has multiple, life-threatening food allergies including egg and sesame, ubiquitous ingredients in Chinese food. For his safety, we no longer go to dim sum restaurants as a family.

Therefore, we’re grateful that our kids can learn about Chinese culture from realistic-looking dim sum toys!

What kids can learn from Chinese play food


My kids have learned a lot of practical Chinese vocabulary through pretend play with Chinese play food. Here are some ideas that you can try with your child(ren) or student(s):


  • Make a menu with prices for each Chinese food
  • Practice counting number of dim sum toys and learn how to divide portions equally.
  • Add together total cost of Chinese dim sum bill

Where to buy Chinese play food dim sum toys

We bought our handmade Chinese play food toys from Heartfelt Makan, a small online shop in Singapore.

Since posting this review a few years ago, I’m so happy to see Asian American and Asian Canadian families selling handmade felt dim sum toys.

To support North American shops and minimize shipping costs, you can buy beautiful Chinese dim sum toys from Etsy:

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  1. I just posted on Instagram but would love another chance here! I’m 1/4 Chinese and my son is only 1/8 and it’s so important for me that he still enjoys and learns about his Chinese heritage, especially when all the Chinese family are in the States and Canada, but thankfully Popo is here! I’m sure they would love playing together and this would be a great start to learning how to use chop sticks. His favourite food is bao – but he just rips it to pieces witb his hands!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your family’s story! So wonderful your son lives near Popo! My husband is a big fan of bao, too!

  2. I love these toys as we celebrate this festival in Singapore, my mom made dumplings every year to give to family and friends too! Such a good toy to get the child to learn about chinese food.
    Our favourite chinese food is Xiao long bao! Will always order when we go Din Tai Fung.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Penny! How sweet of your mother to make a lovely tradition of sharing dumplings! Xiao long bao is my favorite, too! I’ve always heard good things about Din Tai Fung but have not had a chance to try that restaurant! Will need to add it to the bucket list! 🙂

  3. I love to DIY toys for my kids because I made them with love and I feel the love too for the toys that are hand made by others. But I haven’t done that for almost a year because a new bundle of joy had come to our life and needs extra attention from me. I think my older kids will be very happy for getting hew handmade toys like they used to get before.
    We like ‘pau’ (ball of dough with filling) especially salted egg filling. Oh and we like wantan mee too. Yummy!
    My ig: nahdiya_unschool.stories

  4. 1. These would be PERFECT because we love love love natural, handmade toys, we value our Taiwanese heritage, and we love food!!
    2. Fave: niuromien (beef noodle soup) that I make for friends and family!! I make zongzi, dumplings, all kinds of foods with my daughter.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! How wonderful that your daughter can learn to cook these delicious and special foods with you! My husband is a big fan of all soups especially 牛肉麵!

  5. Thanks for sharing with us these toys, Betty! As a Singaporean currently living in the US, I’m excited to know that I can still introduce my son to these and other Singaporean food through these toys, even if it’s hard to find them (good ones) over here in the States. And I really love how detailed and cute these toy food are.
    My favourite Chinese food would probably be the egg fried rice. Simple and comforting, but not easy to get it right.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Xin Yi! It’s so nice to see beautiful quality toys in our culture! Egg fried rice is so delicious – I have fond memories of my mother cooking this all the time during my childhood!

  6. 2nd try (site said not submitted)
    1. We love love love handmade toys and we value our Taiwanese heritage very much. We make zongzi and dumplings every so often and would absolutely treasure these.
    2. Our fave is niuromien (beef noodle soup) which I make for family & friends. My daughter cooks with me and is my sweet helper in the kitchen 🌸

  7. I teach in an international kindergarten in Singapore and we do a mandarin immersion programme. These would be a fab teaching esource to have to expose children to the amazing Chinese culture in Singapore, and after using them, we could even make a field trip up to the Chinese dimsum restaurant just in our vicinity!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Jeannette! This would be so lovely to share with among children in a classroom! And a field trip for Chinese dim sum sounds amazing – sign me up! 😛

  8. Why you are interested in these toys.
    Because it is special educational toys unlike others. Kid can play pretend play using felt toys.

    What is your family’s favorite Chinese food.
    Dim sum and bak kut teh

  9. Thank you for the give away! At last realistic toy that is not made of plastic! Yeah!!! Of course we would want to have ONE!!
    Needless to say big fat meaty siew mai!!!

  10. Love these toys because they look so realistic and super proud that they are made in Singapore! The place i come from =D

    My favorite chinese food is 潮州蒸鱼. And yea simply because i am a teochew hehe.

    Hope to win this set for my kids. Will be a great addition to their ikea kitchen.

  11. Growing up eating dim sum weekly in Queens or Chinatown, NY or going yumcha every morning with my grandma when I was visiting Hong Kong, brings back memories. My husband (50% Chinese but non-fluent) also enjoyed dim sum since his childhood and thus we love introducing our two kids to good food and dim sum. While teaching them the names of their favorite food – my husband loves xiaolongbao, my daughter loves shumai and xiajiao , my son loves hefen and I enjoy zongzi- I think it would be great to have these felt play items to enrich their current interest of learning food names in Chinese. I checked out the heartfelt makan webpage and will be making some purchases soon; thank you for introducing it to us!

  12. Hello Betty! 🙂 My little girl is into pretend play now and everyday she is busy whipping up dishes for family and friends. It’s such a joy to see how she loves to cook and serve others so enthusiastically. Our family loves dim sum especially the Xiao long bao. This giveaway is perfect! 🙂

  13. I love those toys cause we only have western food in our play kitchen right now and I love dim sum and Zong Zi! I am from Hangzhou, China, so my favorite Chinese food is my parent’s home-cooked eggplant dish. My daughter, on the other hand, will probably say her favorite food is rice…or other type of carbs…or ice cream…you know, 3 year old anwsers… 🙂

  14. These will be great additions to our play kitchen! We are fortunate enough to be in California and close to many good Chinese food. With these play food, we can share our heritage when her friends come over to play, too. Our family favorite has to be Xiao Long Bao. We love both the pork soup dumplings and the sweet taro filling ones.

  15. Thanks for sharing this lovely dim sum set. My son’s favourite dish now is charsiu bao, whereas my favorite is shrimp rice rolls. Dim sum has a special meaning to us, well especially for me. My mom used to make them when I was little – zongzi, shrimp dumplings, rice rolls, shumai, seasame dough balls. And now that she has passed, my LO won’t have the opportunity to taste grandma’s dim sum. Also sad that I didn’t get to learn her recipe. Nonetheless, I hope he loves dim sum as much as I do and appreciate the work that goes into making them.

  16. Hi there! I’m Trixie and I am a babysitter who cares for many various families in Singapore. I collect and exchange toys with the community and winning this would be such a great addition to our play resources. On top of that, it would be great to win these toy dim sum to show one my kids how dim sum looks and ‘feel’ like especially when she has a health condition and has a very strict diet. This would be on-par with what they are currently learning st school. We have also set up a dramatic corner – minimart using recycled resources. So far, we’ve reused packagings and used newspaper to make crepe fruits and vegetables. The kids looks forward to every play sessions, and that’s how the life of a child should be – FUN and ENJOYABLE!

    Personally, one of my favourite Chinese food is Dumpling, Tutukueh, Dim Sum and Soups! I’d better no share too much for the fear of making you/ me hungry!

    IG: trixiesbabysittingadventures

  17. My 2yo niece has a sushi set that she adores, and this would be perfect for her to play with. She loves to play eat, go shopping with her food, and play chopping. We are teaching her Mandarin, and of course, dim sum is a staple in our household. My favorite is the BBQ pork buns – so yummy! But we love them all – variety is a must with dim sum!

  18. My 2 yr old twins would love these toys! They absorb so much knowledge and repeats every word we say. It would be awesome if they could learn to say the food we love to eat. We purposely moved and now live within minutes of Asian food. My husband loves and won’t share his bowl of preserved eggs and minced pork congee. I like the steamed soybean wrap with mushrooms. My oldest kid loves the deep fried minced pork dumpling (鹹水角). Twin A likes steamed shrimp dumplings. Twin B likes the tofu dessert. Together, we enjoy dimsum! ♡♡♡♡♡

  19. Thank you for your post. I love your website and your advice for teaching Chinese. My three-year-old son would love these toys. His favorite food is xiao long bao. He loves it so much it’s my nickname for him. I also have lovely memories of making zong zi with my own grandmother. I Would love my son to be able to play with these toys since I don’t make chinese Food at home in Chicago. Thank you for your posts And for inspiring me with new ways to teach my son Mandarin.

  20. My 5-year-old son loves to cook and all things food related! All the play food seems to be western-based and we would love to add some Chinese dim sum to our play kitchen! I’m planning on creating a play restaurant menu with all the Chinese words and photos for our favourite dim sum. We love xiao long bao and jiaozi and we can’t wait to visit Din Tai Fung this summer!

  21. Hi Betty!

    Thank you for sharing this! We love cultivating sense of wonder thru play this is amazing resource! It’s like the Asian Lucy Sparrow (felt artist). We love spam musubi and I love dim sum! My older daughter (11) can inhale 3 trays of 虾饺 easily and who knows how many without restriction! 😂 thank you! Added bonus, I am from Singapore too and the other local foods from @heartfeltmakan are added bonus in allowing me to share my heritage w my kids!

  22. I would love to win these toys as I’m Eurasian and ny husband is Chinese and I would love for my girl to learn about both cultures as she grows up 🙂 my little girl is a foodie and kitchen enthusiast (just like mummy!) and has loved playing masak masak in the kitchen from a very young age (around 9 months!) so these would be absolutely awesome for her as most of her kitchen toys now only consist of the usual western types which are widely available.

  23. I’ve been wanting to get these beautiful play foods for a long time! My daughter loves to pretend cook,
    Serve, set up and eat. She would love to have some Chinese food! Perhaps it would encourage her to try some of it in real life. We love to eat potstickers and any kind of dumplings. Yum.

  24. Love these because it is so hard to find cultural appropriate play food for my kids. It’s so easy to find hamburger and French fries play food, but nothing like this and non plastic too. Our favorite food In our home is xiao long bao -that’s my 6 year old daughters favorite!!

  25. My little girl’s toy kitchen is filled with play food, but Chinese play food is so hard to find! These are adorable! Our family’s favorite Chinese food is chow mein.

  26. These are so adorable! Thanks so much for showing us this product! I recently taught our toddler playgroup about 粽子 during the Dragon Boat Festival by bringing in a real cooked 粽子 for the kids to smell and touch. It was a wonderful sensory activity and being able to bring in a felt model 粽子 (and other dimsim) each week to reinforce the experience would be amazing! Our family’s favourite Chinese food is another yum cha favourite, 蛋撻. My little daughter always fights me for the last half of daahn taat and it’s a joy we share together as a whole family.

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